The market and an institution honored Louis-Pierre Bresset's choices, under the compassionate gaze of the Virgin and Christ.
Southern Netherlands or eastern France, second half of the 15th century. Descent from the Cross With Angels, carved polychrome and giltwood, h. 52.5 cm/20.4 in.
Only about fifteen pieces from the medieval art gallery owner Louis-Pierre Bresset's (1902-1988) collection, which were selected by his family, were offered for auction in this section dedicated to the Late Middle Ages. Among these, the palm, not of martyrdom but of victory, was bestowed on this Descent from the Cross With Angels (see photo). The polychromed and gilded wood sculpture was made in the Southern Netherlands or Eastern France in the second half of the 15th century. The work fetched €180,320, a result commensurate with a rare subject for the period. In fact, this theme, developed during the Counter-Reformation, would not gain ground until the following century: the devotional image was intended to allow the faithful to meditate on the mystery of redemption, encourage them to do penance and undergo conversion.
Just before, the Crozatier Museum in Puy-en-Velay made no mistake by preempting one of the two Sedes sapientiæ (Throne of Wisdom), a symbolic image of the Virgin and Child, from the collection for €154,560—the other one fetched €108,192. It acquired the one that the specialist Jacqueline Liéveaux-Boccador, in her book on medieval statuary co-written with Édouard Bresset (published by Clefs du temps, 1972), described as one of the sculptures "most perfectly representative of the symbolism of this 12th-century sacred art".
The bidding continued and remained at a high level. In terms of early Renaissance paintings, the triptych The Virgin and Child Enthroned Flanked by St. Francis and St. Peter (72.5 x 60 cm/ 28.5 x 23.6 in, open) by the Master of the Dominican Effigies—working in Florence between 1325 and 1345—went for €87,584 and another image of the Mother of Christ, situated between St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist and two angels (77 x 43 cm/30.3 x 16.9 in) by the Florentine Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (c. 1368-c. 1415), garnered €65,688. Each time, the expressions are dignified and restrained and devotion permeated the compositions. A statue of a standing holy woman reading (h. 76 cm/29.9 in), executed in the workshop of Jan Van Steffeswert (ca. 1460-1531), is characteristic of the work of this Limbourg master who settled in Maastricht. Indeed, he took particular care with the clothes and headdress, injecting a note of profanity into this ocean of religiosity, which was snapped up for €48,944.